…Devt Fallouts of Okowa’s denial of governorship zoning
…Free-for-all fight in 2023
Preparatory towards 2023, the Ijaws of Delta State are aiming at producing the next governor of the state, while the Deputy governor may emerge from their close neighbours, the Itsekiris. Both ethnic nationalities are from Delta South Senatorial District.
This revelation is coming on the heel of a recent high wire political meeting held in Warri by a group known as the Itsekiri Political Advancement Forum, IPAF, with the theme “Setting a new front for 2023 and thereafter for Itsekiri Nation.”
The group which has Comrade Dennis Abugewa Mene as National Chairman, Elizabeth Oluwakuyeye, Vice President National and Tuoyo O. Blessing, National Secretary, made the demand in Warri, Delta State, during the inauguration ceremony of the body.
It would be recalled that on May 22, 2021, the Ijaws of Delta State under the auspices of Sons and Daughters of Delta State held a consultative meeting at the BB Hotels, Warri where they brainstormed, planned and strategized “on how to negotiate with other ethnic groups across the state in order to wrestle political power from the incumbent governor after the expiration of his tenure in 2023.”
However, while inaugurating the new Itsekriri political body, IPAF, the National Chairman, Comrade Mene explained that: “We can longer continue to be relegated in the political scheme of things at the State level and at the Federal level, despite our huge contributions to the State and National economy.
“The past 6 to 7 years have been a bitter pill for us to chew as a Nation. Despite our contributions to the National Economy and our peaceful disposition, we have been relegated to a Nation of Commissioner for Women Affairs and SAs at the State level and mere Board members at the Federal level.
“Hence, we have come together as a people of one Nation, one King and one language, to state our stand for our advancement as a Nation, through collaboration with other ethnic Nationalities and Senatorial District in the State and others.
“We are going to continue to throw our full support to the Executive Governor of the State and the President, but we will no longer tolerate a situation where we are treated like nothing with appointment that is undermining, despite our huge contributions being the largest producer of oil and gas in the state and second largest in the country. We have been relegated politically for too long. We would not continue to complain, but have decided to take our destiny in our hands to declare our stand as Itsekiri and our position as regards the future of our dear tribe.
“We wish to use this opportunity to call all on members of our political class, who have formed the habit of negotiating or trading with our heritage for personal gains at the detriment of our Nation, to desist from it as we will no longer tolerate such unpatriotic behavior, going forward. The Itsekiri people are now prepared to fight with their last blood, to restore the lost glory of the Nation in all areas, including politically.
“We therefore, wish to call on our brothers and sisters from other senatorial districts and our senatorial district (Delta South) for the sake of equity and fairness, to support Itsekiri indigenes as Deputy Governor and Senator Representing Delta South Senatorial District. This is because from 1999 till date, no Itsekiri has occupied these positions and we have given maximum support to others in their political pursuits.”
Comrade Mene noted that the group which comprised top politicians of Itsekiri origin, notable business men and women, youths, women, professionals, students’ groups and community leaders, is spread across Warri South, Warri North, Warri South-West, Sapele, Ethiope West, Uvwie, Udu and Okpe Local Government Areas, adding that the nation is very much prepared to “cooperate with other ethnic nationalities and politicians who are prepared to build bridges of mutual political benefits for the collective interest of our people, Itsekiris.”
The position of the Itsekiris was reinforced by a notable University don, Prof. Gabriel Yomere, guest speaker at the occasion, who in his remarks, emphasized the need for the Itsekiri nation to have “a goal, plan B and C as well as put machineries in place to actualize her political goals in 2023 and beyond.”
He vowed that the Itsekiri nation would no longer concede political leadership of Warri South, Warri South-West and Warri North Local Government Areas to another tribe, adding that “Self-seeking individuals controlling the political and economic lives of the Itsekiri nation would not have succeeded if we didn’t support them.”
A prominent Itsekiri Leader of Thought, Sir A. S. Mene, who was represented by Mr. Fred Atikpekpe at the inauguration, advised the people on the need to brainstorm in order to produce a first eleven representatives for the ethnic nationality.
Also speaking at the inauguration, Mr. Amaechi Omagbitse Ogbonna, an Itsekiri Rights Activist, reminisced on the political journey of the Itsekiri in the first to third republics, adding that their political influence started dwindling as from the fourth republic due to the fact that those who have been representing the Itsekiris in PDP and APC are only self-serving personalities. He lamented that “We controlled nothing in 1999. The future of Itsekiri Nation was not negotiated in PDP.”
Meanwhile at the Ijaw Sons and Daughters consultative meeting convened by a former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, in his hotel in Warri on May 22, 2021, an 8-paragraph communiqué including 4 resolutions was drawn up as a guideline for the actualization of the Delta Ijaw dream of producing the next governor of the State.
The communique reads as follows:
“Ijaw people of Delta State met on Saturday, the 22nd day of May, 2021 at BB Hotel and Suites, No. 32 Deco Road, Warri, Delta State to assess their socio-economic and political situation since the creation of Delta State in 1991 till date. The meeting was attended by political, community, religious, youth, women and student leaders from across the Ijaw Communities in Patani, Bomadi, Burutu, Warri South West, Warri South and Warri North Local Government Areas of Delta State. At the meeting, the participants OBSERVED as follows THAT:
- The Ijaws of Delta State have been active players in the socio-economic and political affairs since the days of Western and Mid-Western regions, Bendel State and now Delta State.
Ijaw leaders were at the forefront of the struggle for the creation of Delta State from the defunct Bendel State.
The Ijaw people have made huge sacrifice and contribution to the socio-economic sustenance of Delta State.
However, despite the human and economic contributions of the Ijaws to the sustenance of the state, our communities do not have commensurate infrastructural development.
The Ijaw people over the years have strongly supported other ethnic nationalities of the State to produce the Governor of Delta State.
The meeting took note of the fact that Chief Dennis Osadebey of the present Anioma was the Premier of the defunct Mid-Western Region, when it was created in 1963 with Chief Jereton Marierie from Urhobo as Governor.
In the present Delta State, the Ijaws massively supported the emergence of Olorogun Felix Ibru and Chief James Ibori from Urhobo ethnic nationality, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan from the Itsekiri ethnic nationality and Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa from the Ika (Anioma) ethnic nationality as Governor.
The meeting also noted that even though there was no agreement on power rotation, all the three senatorial districts have produced the Governor of Delta State.
Consequently, after critical and exhaustive deliberations, the meeting RESOLVED as follows THAT:
i. In the spirit of fairness, equity and brotherhood, we appeal to the other ethnic nationalities of Delta State to support a Candidate of Ijaw extraction to become the Governor of Delta State in 2023.
ii. The meeting urged Ijaws to work in collaboration with other ethnic nationalities in the State to achieve the resolution to produce the next Governor of Delta State because we cannot do it alone.
iii. The meeting commended Governor Okowa for his strides in the infrastructural development of Delta State and his vision to build a stronger Delta State.
iv. The meeting also called on Ijaws to continue to support the administration of Governor Okowa and urge the youths to remain calm and maintain the existing peace in the State.”
The Communique was jointly signed by Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, Chief Godspower Gbenekama and Elder Edmund Tiemo.
It would be recalled that about a month ago, the incumbent governor of the State, Senator Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, declared during a press conference that there was no existing gentleman agreement in the PDP to rotate the governorship of the State among the three Senatorial districts.
His declaration has since generated a lot of controversy especially among PDP stalwarts all over the State, a situation which has created division and tension among the party leaders and stakeholders, some who argued that Gov. Okowa emerged the governor of the state at the mercy of the rotation policy which zoned the position to Delta North Senatorial district.
A top PDP stalwarts who spoke Chief Emaniru Ejakpovi, stated that Gov. Okowa’s denial of rotational governorship has thrown the race open without restriction, adding that “it is now a free-for-all fight on who will fly the flag of PDP in 2023.”